Faustus’ Fate

 Faustus is the hubristic protagonist in Christopher Marlowe’s ever-popular play, “The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus.” Frustrated by human limitations on learning , he negotiated with Mephistopheles, Hell’s emissary, to gain for himself a twenty-four-year period of godhood by selling his soul to the emissary’s lord, Lucifer.

No longer constrained by such ordinary disciplines as philosophy, medicine, law, and theology, Faustus explored new frontiers of knowledge through the occult arts, among them alchemy, astrology, necromancy, numerology, and demonology.

Fatefully, the knowledge Faustus craved did not presuppose wisdom. While enjoying his superhuman powers, he failed to realize that all he really had was knowledge — knowledge that couldn’t be wisely applied to humanity’s betterment. When the twelfth hour arrived, Faustus, with nothing more than a useless, encyclopedic collection of facts, faced his tormentors who tore his body to pieces and introduced him to the worst of punishments: eternal absence of God’s love.

Pride, Faustus’ undoing, often finds fertile ground for bringing itself to fruition in human cowardice. As American Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen once said, “Pride is an admission of weakness; it secretly fears all competition and dreads all rivals.”

In the high drama of current American politics, there are Faustian characters who smugly strut and swagger their hour upon the stage, and risk departing in ignominy.

As well they should. After all, what has taken Americans two and a half centuries to build up — a democracy of, by, and for the people, which is the shining light of hope for oppressed peoples the world over — is in jeopardy of being subverted in the eye-blink of one presidential term.

Archbishop Sheen was right: Those possessed of overweening pride fear dissenters and demonize them in cowardly ad hominem fashion. That may be effective when attacking individuals, such as conservative news commentators, but it’s no defense against an entire population awakening to the fact that its security, wellbeing, and freedom are being endangered by a handful of unscrupulous, dog-and-pony-show politicians.

On the home front, many Americans are coming to grips with the unsettling reality that the socialistic Health Care Law will destroy the best health care system in the world by trying to perform an impossible feat of legalistic legerdemain: giving bureaucracy the responsibility of lowering costs in a free enterprise society. When has bureaucracy ever lowered the cost of anything?

On the foreign front, nations having economic and defense ties with America are dismayed that some of her leaders are far too friendly with foreign fanatics fantasizing about the Great Satan’s fall. For example, in meetings with Iran’s president — a bona fide, fiendish, fanatical fruitcake — some of America’s highest echelon leaders, including the Secretary of State, have basically condoned his country’s right to build nuclear weapons!

Such leaders should take note of the warning given in the sixteenth chapter of Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction; a haughty spirit before a fall.” If not, America may soon face Faustus’ fate.

Read the play  “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus” HERE



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